I have been a bit preoccupied with the amount of money that is spent public education versus the grades reported for each Ohio school district. As a reminder, the State of Ohio spent $24.1 billion in federal, state and local property taxes in 2017 and ” achieved” a 1.55 G.P.A. on the State mandated “Achievement” tests. Lake County spent $412 million and achieved a 1.67 G.P.A. for the same year.
Sara Fowler, our district’s State representative for the Ohio School Board, suggested that I need to gain some knowledge about how the grades are calculated. I would then be in a better position to understand why she says that there definitely needs to be a change in how the grades are calculated.
To that end, I went to Brunswick yesterday to hear Mr. Mike Duffey, Ohio House Representative from the 21st District (Dublin area). The event was sponsored by Lisa Woods, another representative of the State Board of Education, and leader of the Medina County Friends and Neighbors group. Mr. Duffey has proposed a bill, which I believe it is currently in committee, that would provide raw data of test scores and not be subject to an A- F grades that we see with the current system.
(LFC Comments: The current A-F grades are NOT the same as many of us are used to seeing under the 90% = “A”, 80% = “B”, 70% = “C”, 60% = “D”, less than 60% = “F”. So that is how we are being misled and school districts may be treated unfairly.)
It seems that our basic grade reporting problems stems from a “value added” method of scoring. So what does value added mean, and how did we get this thrust upon our public schools? From the State Board of Education we found the following:
Ohio’s Value-added system uses an advanced methodology Education Value-added Assessment System (EVAAS) initially formulated by William Sanders and further developed by Sanders and colleagues at SAS Institute, Inc. These procedures, while computationally complex, have a substantial body of empirical testing in research literature to support them.
Here is a link to the Ohio Board of Education website dealing with the “value-add”.
Who is William Sanders and what did he believe? Here is a link to a website that shows that he had a degree in animal science and a doctorate in statistics. (LFC Comment: Huh, animal science?)
“He was most well-known for developing “a method used to measure a district, school, and teacher’s effect on student performance by tracking the year-to-year progress of students against themselves over their school career with various teachers’ classes.”
He “stood for a hopeful view that teacher effectiveness dwarfs all other factors as a predictor of student academic growth…[challenging]…decades of assumptions that student family life, income, or ethnicity has more effect on student learning.”
He believed, in the simplest of terms, “that educational influence matters and teachers matter most.”
Mr. Duffey stated that the whole “value add” formula is 40 pages long, and is the proprietary property of the SAS company and no one knows how the calculations work. They are not reproducible at the local level. Rather than giving an “A” if you 90%, and a “B” if you get 80%, using Mr. Sanders’ formula the grading is a bit subjective, may change annually, and 80% of the students must pass to get a “C”.
Mr. Duffey stated that, in his opinion, there are culture problems that have crept into our public education system.
1. Our culture is de-emphasizing education. He noted the drastic difference in the mindset of Asian-American that still value education for their children.
2. Parents side with children instead of teachers.
3. People are becoming lazy and complacent.
4. Teachers are becoming disinterested and fewer are going into teaching. (LFC Comment: What I have been able to glean from family members that are teachers and others that have shared their teaching experiences, it is the constant changing of teaching methods, teaching to the test instead of the subject matter, the need to keep track of ever more statistics requiring untold hours working at home, dealing with demanding parents, and being unreasonably held accountable for a perceived potential growth of their students.)
(LFC Comment: We have said many times before, a basic society problem is the break-down of the traditional family, and why teachers should be held accountable for that is beyond this writer’s comprehension. Although we agree that good teachers are invaluable, they should not be held accountable for issues outside of their control.)
If you want to get deeper into the analysis of Ohio’s Report Cards, you will want to look at this website.
Mr. Duffey also suggested that there is an alarming number of students that are not ready to attend and succeed in college upon their high school graduation. Remediation is a big business for colleges.
Sara Fowler spoke at the meeting and told everyone that basically we should discard what we have and go back to the old National Norm Referenced Test known at the Iowa Tests that have been used in the past.
Some people may ask why do we have to even have testing? The answer is simple – always follow the money. The Federal Government requires the testing, and the money received from the Feds comprises of 10% of the State School budget. No tests, then no money from the Feds!
Mr. Duffey did not know how much money was spent with SAS, but said he would try to get it for us.
(LFC Comment: In summary, it seems that we are suffering from ” Paralysis by Analysis” . In an effort to measure every last detail, and to hold educators accountable for the children’s perceived required progress for each grade, we have severely complicated the education process. It appears we have turned teachers into bookkeepers and they focus on teaching to the test rather than the subject matter. No doubt there may be many more problems in our public schools that have not been exposed to this writer. However, I can say that, without a doubt, we need to scrap the current, entire grading system, and install a more common sense, simplified testing system that is more fair and understandable to the children, teachers, parents and taxpayers.
The only way that change can be made is for taxpayers to support their representative of the State School Board. Sara Fowler, Lisa Woods and State Representative Mike Duffey cannot do it alone. They are up against politicians that have other agendas that need to be met rather than what is in the best interests of Ohio’s students, teachers and taxpayers.)